Column Eight: Atterton moves to Mahon

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The Independent Online
Guinness Mahon, the banking group, has found a chairman to replace Geoffrey Bell, who announced his retirement yesterday. Who better than a former director of Barclays Bank, which last week sheepishly admitted it had lent pounds 2.5bn to people who weren't going to pay it back.

Step forward, David Atterton. As a Barclays non- executive director from 1984 till last April, Mr Atterton witnessed one of the most lavish lending sprees in bank history. He describes the Barclays- bashing as 'very sad' but won't be drawn further.

An industrialist and former Bank of England director, Mr Atterton collects banknotes and speaks Japanese - handy for chats with GM's parent, the Bank of Yokohama.

Confusion for motorists yesterday on the Hammersmith flyover in west London, where several companies display the temperature. Lucozade and PolyGram agreed it was 9C. Texaco said 12C. Wang, apparently feeling the chill since its US filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, recorded a parky 7C.

With governments around the world casting censorious eyes over the fat profits of drug companies, it may have been a tad tactless of Bernard Taylor, chairman of Medeva, to accept a 47 per cent pay rise to pounds 431,000 last year. Especially since the one-time Glaxo boss also sits on a pounds 5m paper profit from his share options.

At the Institute of Credit Management conference Stuart Bell, the Labour MP, enlivened proceedings with a tale about his fellow speaker Neil Hamilton, minister for corporate affairs. Recently put in charge of cutting red tape, Mr Hamilton was so thrilled with his hatchet-man role that he proudly told a ministers' meeting: 'I'm going to be the most unpopular MP in Parliament.'

It was left to a lugubrious Norman Lamont to put him straight: 'You're not even on the pitch,' he told the upstart Hamilton.

As the fag end of No Smoking Day is stubbed out, a writ arrives at Philip Morris. The tobacco company is being sued by a man who claims he was a chain smoker of Marlboro cigarettes for 34 years and is seeking compensation in a Seattle court for kicking the habit. Al Deskiewicz, a design engineer, wants dollars 1,153 in expenses.

That would cover the cost of doctor visits, nicotine patches and a year's health club membership - needed to shed 12 pounds gained since he quit on 1 January.

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